ATA’s truck tonnage index rose 1.4% in January but lags 2.1% behind last year

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ATA January Tonnage
Compared to January 2020, the American Trucking Associations’ seasonally adjusted index fell 2.1%, which was preceded by a 2.6% year-over-year decline in December. In 2020, the index was 4% below the 2019 average. (Courtesy: American Trucking Associations)

ARLINGTON, Va. — American Trucking Associations’ (ATA) advanced seasonally adjusted For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index increased 1.4% in January after rising 1.2% in December. In January, the index equaled 114.6 (2015=100) compared with 113.1 in December. ATA recently revised the seasonally adjusted index back five years as part of its annual revision.

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“Over the last four months, the tonnage index has increased a total of 3.3%, which is obviously good news” said Bob Costello, chief economist for ATA. “However, the index is still off 2.8% from the high in March as tonnage plunged 9% in April alone. I continue to expect a nice climb up for the economy and truck freight as we get more economic stimulus and increased vaccination numbers.”

Compared to January 2020, the seasonally adjusted index fell 2.1%, which was preceded by a 2.6% year-over-year decline in December. In 2020, the index was 4% below the 2019 average.

The not seasonally adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by the fleets before any seasonal adjustment, equaled 107.4 in January, 4.5% below the December level (112.4). In calculating the index, 100 represents 2015. ATA’s For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index is dominated by contract freight as opposed to spot market freight.

ATA calculates the tonnage index based on surveys from its membership. This is a preliminary figure and subject to change in the final report, issued around the fifth day of each month. The report includes month-to-month and year-over-year results, relevant economic comparisons, and key financial indicators.

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